Tahoe Resource Conservation District

Media and Press Releases

Eyes on the Lake volunteers protect from aquatic invaders; celebration tonight

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Tahoe RCD in the News: a newspaper article featuring partner organizations and agencies coming together to help conserve the Upper Truckee River watershed. Tahoe RCD staff participated in a volunteer survey to collect presence/absence data of aquatic invasive plants along the upper reach of the Upper Truckee River (UTR). No aquatic invasive plant species (Eurasian watermilfoil or Curlyleaf pondweed) were found in the upper reach, however populations of the native white waterbuttercup (Ranunculus aqualitas) were found. Location data was also collected for populations of the native western pearlshell mussel.

These efforts contribute to data sets that help inform Tahoe RCD restoration projects such as Lakewide Aquatic Invasive Plant control and the restoration of Johnson Meadow. Tahoe RCD acquired the Johnson Meadow parcel in the UTR watershed last year. The purpose moving forward is to provide ecosystem and watershed protection benefits through preservation, management, and future restoration of meadow, riparian, aquatic and upland habitats in Johnson Meadow.

League to Save Lake Tahoe staff, Kelci Brown, pictured in the Upper Truckee River with a population of native white waterbuttercup. September 5, 2019

The Tahoe Daily Tribune | Staff Report | October 17, 2019

Community members, supported by staff from the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Resource Conservation District and California State Parks, have wrapped up a three-year effort to survey the Upper Truckee River for aquatic invasive plants.

This effort will help prevent the spread of invasives during major upcoming restoration projects along the river, Lake Tahoe’s largest tributary.

“Our citizen science volunteers are some of the most passionate Tahoe lovers I have met who are always looking for meaningful ways to Keep Tahoe Blue,” exclaimed Emily Frey, the League’s citizen science program coordinator. “This type of effort allows them to dive deeper into the issues and serve as ad-hoc aquatic biologists … a truly unique and meaningful experience.”

The Upper Truckee River collects runoff from a third of the Lake Tahoe Basin and supports one of the largest wetlands in the Sierra Nevada. Historical logging, grazing, and urban development have degraded the river, and destroyed much of the wetland marsh habitat where the river meets Lake Tahoe.

Native aquatic plant called white waterbuttercup (Ranunculus aqualitas) observed in the Upper Truckee River on September 5, 2019.

This multi-year survey, conducted through the League’s Eyes on the Lake Program, mapped the location of two aquatic invasive plants: curlyleaf pondweed and Eurasian watermilfoil. These aquatic invasives pose one of the greatest threats to Lake Tahoe’s delicate ecology.

“It’s great to see community members engaged and empowered through citizen science efforts like this,” said Jen Greenberg, associate environmental planner with the California Tahoe Conservancy. “This extensive survey will help inform multi-million dollar restoration projects, including the Upper Truckee Marsh restoration.”

The Conservancy, Tahoe RCD, and California State Parks all have ongoing and future significant restoration projects located along the Upper Truckee River. These projects will help restore the resiliency of the river and its habitat to climate change, while improving water quality flowing downstream to Lake Tahoe.

Eyes on the Lake is the League’s volunteer citizen science program to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive plants in Lake Tahoe and surrounding waters. Trained volunteers identify and report on aquatic invasive plants they find in and around Tahoe, helping to address infestations early while they are easier to control.

Survey participants began their work in 2016, surveying the river from its mouth at Lake Tahoe upstream to its crossing by US Highway 50, mapping multiple significant infestations of both curlyleaf pondweed and Eurasian watermilfoil.

In 2018, participants surveyed the next stretch of river, starting from where the 2016 effort ended and concluding at the US 50 / State Route 89 crossing near Elks Club Road.

In 2019, surveyors completed the final

A native aquatic plant species also found in the Upper Truckee River.

upstream reach to the river’s southernmost crossing of U.S. 50 in Meyers. Survey teams found no invasives in either the 2018 or 2019 surveys. Final survey maps and a report were completed by League staff and provided to land managers along the river.

“This type of collaboration between community members and Tahoe agencies can be a very powerful resource,” stated Jesse Patterson, chief strategy officer for the League. “We hope to continue to grow the army of citizen scientists here in Tahoe so we can not only raise awareness about environmental challenges facing our Lake but also provide valuable information for projects on the ground.”

 

Visit our website for more information about Aquatic Invasive Species Control Projects at Lake Tahoe.

Also find more information about the Johnson Meadow acquisition and restoration priorities. 

 

Thank you for joining us at the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s Citizen Science Celebration at Himmel Haus in South Lake Tahoe, CA on October 17, 2019.

Watercraft Inspection Stations Closing for the Season

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This week marks the last full week of operations for watercraft inspection stations as we transition into Fall. As of Oct. 1, watercraft inspection operations will move from roadside inspection stations and occur at Cave Rock and Lake Forest launch ramps for the winter season.

This season marks 11 years of Lake Tahoe’s Watercraft Inspection Program. Under the program, every motorized watercraft is inspected to ensure it is Clean, Drained, and Dry and not carrying aquatic invasive species (AIS) before launching at Tahoe. Thanks to the diligence of boaters and inspectors, no new aquatic invasive species have been detected in Lake Tahoe since the program launched in 2008.

Inspectors examined nearly 8,000 watercraft this season, 50% of them arrived Clean, Drained, and Dry. This is evidence that boaters continue to come to watercraft inspection stations prepared. Eleven watercraft were found carrying invasive mussels and 29 were harboring other species. Vigilance is required to protect Lake Tahoe’s waters from new exposures to invasive species.

Each vessel found harboring invasive species was decontaminated before being allowed to launch in Lake Tahoe. The largest number of decontaminations occur on vessels containing standing water, which
may harbor aquatic invasive species. Boaters are encouraged to continue to be a part of the solution by cleaning, draining, and drying their vessel before launching in any waterbody. This includes both motorized and nonmotorized watercraft.

During winter season operations, Tahoe Resource Conservation District inspectors will conduct aquatic invasive species inspections and decontaminations from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, weather
permitting at Cave Rock and Lake Forest launch ramps. All motorized watercraft without intact Tahoe Inspection seals will be required to get an inspection during daylight hours.

Keep up with the latest information by following the Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program on social media through Facebook and Twitter @TahoeBoating or online at
www.tahoeboatinspections.com. You can find useful information on aquatic invasive species, and tips on how to prepare for watercraft inspections.

From Common Container to Masterful Mural

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What was once a dull gray shipping container has been transformed into a work of art at the watercraft inspection station in Meyers, California. The container houses equipment used to decontaminate boats arriving at the station that might harbor aquatic invasive species.

Now greeting boaters will be a colorful and creative mural painted by local artists and students. At the same time the mural puts the Clean, Drain, and Dry message front and center.

Shipping containers are the utilitarian cargo-carrying crates of the open ocean, hulking large metal boxes that began life transporting goods piggybacked on top of one another, bound for destinations around
the globe.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District use a number of these shipping containers at various watercraft inspection stations around Lake Tahoe.

This summer TRPA commissioned South Tahoe High School teacher and artist Matt Kauffmann to transform one of the big gray boxes into a work of art. Kauffman and several of his current and former students spent many hours over the span of four nights to complete the mural project.

“Nobody said fighting aquatic invasive species couldn’t also be beautiful at the same time,” said Dennis Zabaglo, manager of TRPA’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program. “This mural emphasizes our Clean, Drain,
and Dry message, in a colorful way that grabs boaters attention.

Would you like to see this work of art for yourself? It’s located at our boat inspection station in Meyers, located at 2175 Keetak Street off Highway 89 in Meyers, CA.

All off-site boat inspections stations close for the season at the end of September. Winter boat inspections will be performed at the Cave Rock and Lake Forest boat ramps from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. seven days a week. TahoeBoatInspections.com

Mussels Intercepted at Tahoe Inspection Stations

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Boat inspectors recently prevented two vessels from launching at Lake Tahoe and other regional lakes, after discovering infestations of aquatic invasive species (AIS). During mandatory inspections in Meyers and Truckee, California, inspectors found invasive mussels on both boats.

Inspectors intercepted the first boat at the inspection Station in Meyers, California. The powerboat was coming to Lake Tahoe from Lake Pleasant, Arizona. Discovered on the boat’s hull were some 100 invasive mussels, many suspected to be alive. Inspectors treated and killed the mussels during the decontamination process, but the infestation was so large that inspectors could not remove all the mussels from the boat’s hull and other hard-to-reach areas. The watercraft was not allowed to launch.

In the second case, inspectors in Truckee, California intercepted a small nonmotorized sailboat that contained approximately 20 dead mussels. The mussels were found inside of the sailboat’s keel locker on the hull. The owner stated the boat had been out of the water for about four years, and that he had unknowingly purchased the boat with the mussels already onboard.

 Quagga mussels were found inside the sailboat’s keel locker on the hull.

“This is a stark reminder of why inspections are mandatory at Lake Tahoe. Aquatic invasive species pose a serious threat and we rely on the hard work and diligence of our boat inspection team to protect Lake Tahoe and other waterbodies,” said Chris Kilian, Tahoe Resource Conservation District.

Key facts:

  • Both vessels were intercepted by inspectors before they could launch into local waterbodies.
  • Both boats were quarantined for further inspection and decontamination.
  • Regarding the boat from Arizona, the mussels lived through the 700-mile, 12-hour trip to Tahoe.
  • Deemed to be a high-risk vessel, California Department of Fish and Wildlife required a mechanic to take apart the powerboat’s drive to remove potentially live mussels. The craft was returned to Arizona, and never launched in Lake Tahoe.
  • The sailboat was eventually cleared from quarantine and allowed to launch at Donner Lake.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s aquatic resources program manager Dennis Zabaglo said, “In both instances, inspectors on the front-line kept watercraft from potentially harming Lake Tahoe’s fragile ecosystem. These incidents underscore the need for boaters to arrive at inspection stations with their craft clean, drained, and dried.”

In the last 11 years, the Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program has been successful in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species into Lake Tahoe and other waterbodies in the Region. Once introduced, species like quagga and zebra mussels would have devastating consequences for the ecosystem and economy.

TahoeBoatInspections.com

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency column: The fight against aquatic invasive species continues (opinion)

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Tahoe RCD in the News: a newspaper article featuring conservation work of the Tahoe RCD and partner agencies and organizations. 

 

The Tahoe Daily Tribune | Joanne Marchetta, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency | May 22, 2019

While it felt like spring had finally arrived, we all know Mother Nature can be fickle, especially at Lake Tahoe.

For those who love to play in the snow, it was a fantastic winter, and a banner year for the Sierra snowpack. Despite some cooler weather now, steady warmer temperatures are on the way and our attention is shifting from the mountains to the lake.

Boating season is here, and our ongoing battle in the fight against aquatic invasive species continues. For 11 years, more than 40 agencies and private nonprofit partners have worked to prevent the further spread of aquatic invasives.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and our partners at the Tahoe Resource Conservation District are operating boat inspection stations around the basin. To date, we have been successful in this critical program. No discoveries of new aquatic invasive species have been detected over the last 10 years.

In no small measure, that’s thanks to the engagement of the boating community. Mandatory inspections have so far stopped the spread of aquatic invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels from entering Tahoe’s waters.

The mantra is simple: clean, drain, dry. Everyone launching a vessel at Lake Tahoe, whether it’s motorized or muscle powered, should be proactive in cleaning watercraft thoroughly. Once you clean it, make sure it’s drained and then fully dry before setting out. Research has shown that adult zebra mussels can survive for days out of water.

During the 2018 boating season, inspectors examined some 8,000 watercraft. Forty-four percent of those had been cleaned, drained and dried. But that means 56% of boaters and their vessels arrived at inspection stations with the potential to spread aquatic invasive species to Tahoe’s waters.

Were either of these invasive mussels able to take hold in Tahoe’s waters, their impacts could be catastrophic. Invasive mussels starve native aquatic species of nutrients they need to survive. Both quagga and zebra mussels are prolific procreators, quickly accumulating on underwater surfaces, encrusting docks, boats, and buoys. Their razor-like shells can carpet shallow waters and beaches, making for a painful encounter with the human foot.

There are harrowing examples of what could have been. Last July, Tahoe Resource Conservation District inspectors intercepted a boat infested with multiple aquatic invasive species. An undetected crack in the boat’s pontoon was allowing water to seep in. Inspectors found adult quagga and zebra mussels, and other aquatic plants and snails — a glaring example of how easy it is for an unsuspecting boater to introduce aquatic invasive species to Tahoe’s ecosystem.

While powerboats get most of the attention, local kayakers, paddle boarders, and other non-motorized watercraft users can also unintentionally introduce invasives to the lake. The League to Save Lake Tahoe’s “Eyes on the Lake” program has educated thousands of lake lovers, enlisting an army of citizen scientists to help monitor the lake’s shoreline and report sightings of invasive plants like watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.

The League will offer several “Eyes on the Lake” training classes throughout the summer. Already, 3,000 people have been trained to keep an eye on Tahoe, helping to protect our clear and pristine waters. The Tahoe Keepers program also has enlisted thousands of paddlers in the quest to protect the lake.

Ground zero in the fight against invasive plants is the Tahoe Keys. The area continues to see large-scale infestations of invasive plants so severe that it’s threatening the entire lake.

In a genuinely collaborative undertaking, the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association (TKPOA) has partnered with multiple organizations to develop a comprehensive plan to stop the spread of invasive plants. Last month, the property association provided the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board with an update on the testing to be done in the Tahoe Keys over the next two years.

Testbed studies will be undertaken, using a variety of methods, including the continued application of underwater barriers and the testing of ultraviolet light treatments. The question of whether to use EPA-approved aquatic herbicides is still under discussion and review as part of the testing process over the next few years.

In the meantime, TKPOA and its partners are taking proactive measures to contain these invasive plants within the Keys’ borders. For a second summer, a bubble curtain will operate at the entrance to the Keys. Using a powerful stream of air, this curtain technology dislodges pieces of plant material attached to the bottom of watercraft. Pairing with the bubble curtains, TKPOA has also invested in autonomous sea bins to gather the plant material dislodged from boats leaving the marina.

Protecting and preserving Lake Tahoe’s waters is paramount to TRPA’s mission. Stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species at the lake is a daunting task, and collaborative actions will continue to pave the path to success.

Please join us in this fight and learn more at http://www.tahoeboatinspections.com.

Joanne Marchetta is the executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency